What Are Carpenter Bees and How do you Deal with them in your Garden?
August 29, 2019

What Are Carpenter Bees and How do you Deal with them in your Garden?

Carpenter bees got this name because of their habit of boring into wood. It is important to note that a carpenter bee does not eat wood, but simply drill circular holes to create tunnels in wood. This habit may cause structural damage.

These bees are not social insects like other types of bees such as bumblebee or honeybee. For this reason, they build individual nests into wood (build frames, trees, eaves, or sides of a building). Nest building can damage wood, but there are things you can do to put a stop to carpenter bees from destroying your deck.

What Does A Carpenter Bee Look Like?

A carpenter bee has similar features or appearances to a bumblebee, but lack the yellow marking that is found on a bumble bee’s abdomen. Also, bumblebees have a hairy abdomen whereas carpenter bees have smooth and shiny abdomen.

Remember, because there are many species of carpenter bees in America, and across the world, some physical features differ slightly. For example, an Eastern carpenter bee strongly looks like a bumblebee in appearance; with a smooth black body, but also has a yellow hair patch on its thorax. Other carpenter bee species like the female valley and California carpenter bee have metallic, colorful bodies.

Infestation Signs

Round, smooth holes into the wood are the common sign of a carpenter bee infestation. Homeowners are advised to inspect their homes regularly for building damage from these bees and also including the surrounding property perimeter. Homeowners should concentrate on looking for any presences of hovering bees and holes.

Staining or painting wood can deter carpenter bees because they highly prefer bare wood. However, there are cases where they can occasionally attack a stained or painted wood. However, a full-proof way to deter them is using a silicone-based caulk to cover or seal crevices and cracks along your home’s walls and foundation. You should also repair any screen tears and keep doors closed all the time.

Other tricks and tips to deter carpenter bees from your property include

Destroying Existing Nests

If you find any existing nest, you should plug them as soon as possible. Before you do this, remember that carpenter bees are highly territorial, which means they will defend their nest and keep other bees away from its nest. If your trap is not functioning as supposed to, there is a high chance that there could be other nests close by, that is discouraging the bee from nesting in that particular hole. However, using either putty, caulk, steel wool, or wooden dowels, you can easily cover the holes. When you have covered all the holes, look for any new nests being bored.

Jump Start The Pheromone

Did you know that for a trap to be effective, you have to increase the number of dead carpenter bees collected? That is because dead carpenter bees release a pheromone that attracts other carpenter bees. Therefore, you can use the pheromone release to attract other bees to your trap. You should, therefore, place dead carpenter bees in the bottom bottle of a clear receptacle. The released pheromone will kick start your trap on the right track.

NO Other Bait Needed

There are many traps that use other attractants for the trap. Well, the truth is that it may be the truth, but this does not apply when it comes to these bees. Putting other attractants could affect the overall smell of the pheromone, making the trap to be less effective. In other cases, the attractants could actually deter the bees from going to the trap.

Vertical Alignment

The trap hole should be placed vertically for the trap to work effectively. That is because these bees cannot fly directly up. Therefore, placing the trap sideways or at an angle will actually make it easy for them to find their way out of the trap.


Carpenter bees are specific creatures, and highly sensitive to smell. For this reason, there is a high probability that your trap will not work as effectively when you first install it. That is because the smell may not be appealing to them. For this reason, do not worry and be patient. With time, the trap will begin to smell like its environment, and this may take several days. It is wise to give your trap about two weeks in one spot before trying other areas.

Citrus Spray

You should consider using a citrus spray to protect hard to reach areas or your wooded furniture. Carpenter bees do not like the citrus smell and actually fly away when they smell citrus. For this method to be effective, you should repeat the process after a few days, especially when it is carpenter bee season.